September 27, 2020

While this article is directly talking in regards to BFCM, these principles apply year-round for a fantastic return on spend.

Ad costs are rising. Fast.

Why? 

Some of the largest VC funded businesses in the world are dumping billions of dollars into Facebook ads, and the migration of budgets spent by large conglomerates on television ads is moving to Facebook. 

There's a supply & demand issue, and right now, Facebook knows that attention is underpriced and that they can continue to charge more for it. 

As a small business, that means you need to be looking for other ways to earn the attention of your customers and the wider audience you're trying to attract.

Increasing the lifetime value of your existing customer base should be a bigger priority for all of us.

At my own company, Posted Protein, we've always looked at what are the ways that we can stand out in a memorable fashion. 

We do so in a way that creates an emotional connection and makes our customers fall in love with our brand. 

I can tell you, as a supplement company, that's not something most of our customers expect.

One of the primary ways we do this is with handwritten thank you notes in every order.

It takes us roughly 10 seconds per order to quickly look at how many orders a customer has made with us previously, then assess the products in their order & create a note bespoke to them.

It's a massive driver of repeat business for us.

We do it because we care about cultivating these relationships with our customers & getting to know each and every one of them. But also because we know it works & tangibly captures their attention.

Handwritten notes build an emotional connection that we can't achieve with other mediums in the same manner.

So how can you begin using something similar to start reminding your customers that you exist?

And begin teasing a BFCM sale now before ad costs go through the roof in November and attention becomes increasingly hard to attain?

Great question! It's significantly easier & cheaper than you might imagine, even at scale. 

  1. Pen & Paper (for the smaller Shopify stores among us)
  2. Handwrytten 
  3. Scribeless (our personal favourite of the bunch for Shopify stores) 

Let's explore each one. 👇

1. Good old pen and paper.

Go the old school way; send every single customer you have a thank you card & let them know you'll be having a sale in November.

Tell them to pin the card to their fridge to remind them about your upcoming sale, and incentivize them to keep the card by including a discount code that's activated later in the year.

Simple.

 

2. Handwrytten.com

If you haven't stumbled across Handwrytten before, be prepared to have your mind blown. 

All you need to craft is a message template: in typed form. 

You then upload that to Handwrytten which adds in variables such as {{first name}}, {{address}} and a dozen other attributes you can hope to include. 

Automated machines then go to work "handwriting" your personalized notes.

Make no mistake; these notes are not printed. 

Each note is crafted using a fountain pen & physically written. Handwrytten even writes the envelope and applies a stamp, so the entire experience feels incredibly high-touch. 

All notes from sent from Arizona, but they ship throughout the world for incredibly low rates too.

  • 100% Automated but looks beautiful & feels handcrafted.
  • 18 Different handwriting styles (totally custom is also possible if you want to upload your handwriting, but does come at a premium)
  • 1 Day turnaround.
  • No minimums.
  • Rates start from just $3.50.
  • International shipping is only $1.15.
  • Simple integration with Shopify via Zapier.

 

3. Scribeless.co

UK folks, we most certainly haven't forgotten you! 🇬🇧

And this may just be our favourite solution we've found for Shopify stores across the globe yet.

Having just had a quick call with the guys at Scribeless (who could not have been more helpful), I can give you even further detail about what they're currently up to. Plus what they have in the pipeline.

Scribeless operates a very similar service as Handwrytten but operate here in the UK (and Dallas, and soon Australia) with rates from only £1.50 (including shipping).

At that price, it's an absolute steal for what they're offering. And yes, they do ship internationally too.

Better still, Scribeless currently has two offices:

  • London
  • Dallas

Why do multiple offices matter? 

Primarily, keeping those shipping costs down for you.

But additionally, making those postmarks consistent – give your US-based customers a US-based experience, and your UK/EU customers something closer to home too.

Australia is also in the works and should be opening late-2019/early-2020.

 

Shipping Rates

UK: From as little as £1.50, you can send a handwritten A5 note, crafted using a fountain pen and robotics, with a handwritten envelope, and a first-class stamp. 

The entire cost to write & ship your note can be as low as £1.50.

I'm blown away by just how low this is.

The team are incredibly keen to build long-term relationships with brands, which is why they're determined to keep this price as low as they can.

USA: For precisely the same service as above, rates start at just $2 for a handwritten A5 note, handwritten envelope, and stamp all included.

This is a phenomenally low-cost way to get a message physically into the hand of your list, in a way that makes a big impact.

Seriously, how many handwritten notes do you receive each day? 

Compare that with the average 130+ emails that land in most customers inboxes each day.

P.S. If you're looking for a simple printed service, and to self fulfil, eCommerce brands can have A5 notes written (with envelopes) from as low as 35p with Scribeless. But for this article, we're far more interested in making this process as easy as possible for eCommerce brands to launch with minimal fuss.

 

Turnaround Times

Typically 5 days. However, if orders are placed in the early morning (GMT), and the Scribeless team is notified, they can turnaround orders in just 1 day.

 

Technology

Machine learning AI combined with advanced robotics. Scribeless is not playing around.

If you want to create an utterly bespoke experience for your notes, it's very much possible to scan your handwriting (or that team members' you have & love the style of) and have the AI at Scribble recreate it at scale. 

We can't *yet* show you a behind-the-scenes look at Scribble as their robots are currently patent-pending.

Rest assured, as soon as we can we'll update this post.

 

Integrations

Shopify: their current integration is still in beta but proving to be a great success at making life incredibly easy for Shopify based eCommerce stores.

Shopify Flow: this one is huge. Ever since Bond, unfortunately, closed their doors in March 2019, Shopify Plus customers haven't had a simple solution to add personalized handwritten notes to their Flows. That's very much about to change. Scribeless is expecting to be the only Shopify Flow integrated handwriting partner as of October/November 2019.

Hubspot: less relevant for most Shopify merchants, but if you need it Scribeless has a direct integration with Hubspot.

Zapier: for any other connection you could wish for (think Amazon orders), there's a zap for that.

 

Quality

We've got some samples on their way to us from the guys at Scribeless, so we'll undoubtedly get some photos of those posted once they arrive. 

However, we can tell you that all notes are written on a luxury card for an unforgettable customer experience.

These should both look & feel fabulous!

See a quick pitch from Robert @ Scribeless at The Pitch in 2018:

 

And a quick demo of their (former version) robot creating personalised magazine covers using John McCarthy's handwriting:

Key Takeaways On All These Options

  • Lean into personalisation – your customers will love you for it.
  • Handwritten notes are low cost, yet yield incredibly high returns (10-30x returns are not uncommon).
  • Create emotional experiences that your customers love to share with friends, family & on social channels for free.
  • This does not have to be complicated.

 

If you need a hand setting up & integrating any of these services, simply drop us a message - we LOVE this kind of stuff (scaling the 'unscalable' & growing your sales!).

Test these things out, see how customers react & gauge it from there.

If it works - go bigger & increase that ROI! 👊

Attention has never been more expensive: find it where it's the lowest possible cost for the highest possible return.

 

P.S. Don't forget if you're operating on a smaller budget (or you want to try this out first before committing to sending thousands of notes) you can run it via a small subset of your customer base.

Say, VIP customers that have made 10+ orders with you in the last 12 months. 

P.P.S. This doesn't have to be a "one and done" type campaign either.

You can undoubtedly build this into your sales & retargeting funnel, whereby notes automatically get dispatched based upon where your customer is within their purchase journey.

(Think: sending a thank you note when a customer makes their first purchase, or a gift card when they place their 10th)

 

Truly, any questions at all just let me know.  🙋‍♂️


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Subscribers get all the great stuff.